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Magi baseball drops pair of games to Williston at home

Justin Martinez/MDN Minot High School sophomore Chase Burke prepares to swing at a pitch during the Magicians’ doubleheader against Williston on Friday at Corbett Field.

Derek Nygaard could only fend off the Coyotes for so long.

The junior second baseman was a human highlight reel in the early going of the Minot High School baseball team’s doubleheader against Williston on Friday, as the ball continuously came in his direction. Nygaard welcomed the challenge every time and never faltered, making a series of show-stopping snags to keep the Coyotes off the board.

But the junior’s stellar defensive plays weren’t enough to contain Williston all night. The Coyotes (9-3, 4-2 West Region) eventually got the best of Nygaard and the Magi (8-6, 5-5 West Region) and lit up the scoreboard at Corbett Fielder en route to a 14-5 win and a 7-4 win.

“We faced a pretty good team in Williston,” MHS head coach Pete Stenberg said. “They swing pretty well up and down the lineup, and we saw two pretty good pitchers from them…We saw some good things, but we also saw some things we need to work on. That’s why we play these games early.”

Nygaard immediately made his presence known in the top of the first inning when a ground ball off the bat of Williston’s Garret Hill nearly zipped past him. Instead, the junior quickly laid out for a diving grab, popped back up to his feet and threw Hill out at first.

Still scoreless in the top of the second inning with runners on first and second, the Coyotes tested Nygaard once more.

This time it was Williston’s Jaxon Meyer who sent a line drive into the junior’s territory. In a split second, Nygaard snatched the ball out of the air and threw it to first base before Williston’s Camdin Miller could get back for the double play. Minot got the third out shortly afterwards to keep the Coyotes off the board.

“(The plays) were a very big confidence boost for me,” Nygaard said. “Especially because they were against a good team like Williston. I like playing defense more than I like hitting. I’ve always been that way.”

The Magi took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame off an RBI single by Dylan Buchanan, but Williston’s offense finally broke free in the fourth.

Brady Doeden and Miller gave the Coyotes a 2-1 edge with an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly, respectively, and the road team piled it on from there. Williston went on to score 12 combined runs in the fifth and sixth inning to claim a 14-4 lead.

Minot added a run to its total in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Coyotes still cruised to the 14-5 win.

Now in the second game of the night, Williston began to flex its muscles. After Kyler Stenberg drew first blood for the Magi in the bottom of the opening inning with an unearned run, the Coyotes’ bats picked up where they left off.

With a runner on third base, Jaxon Meyer delivered a gut punch with a deep bomb that easily cleared the fence for a homer. Now tied 2-2 in the top of the third inning, Doeden followed suit.

The Williston senior saw a pitch he liked from Kyler Stenberg and got every last bit of it, sending it up the middle of the field and out of the park for a two-run dinger.

The Coyotes never relinquished the lead from that point and earned the 7-4 win. Kyler Stenberg, junior Jack Plemel and Buchanan each recorded an RBI in the losing effort.

The Magi will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they host a doubleheader against Bismarck Legacy at Corbett Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

“We just have to pick up the bats more,” Nygaard said. “We can’t leave as many runners stranded. If we drive in runs and limit the errors, we should be fine.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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